Freelance lifestyle: Martiene Bruggink on life in editorial and production for ESPN, UEFA and the KNVB
International Women's Day 2021 focus
When her brother, the former Dutch international footballer Arnold Bruggink, was interviewed at home by the press when she was in her early 20s, Martiene Bruggink got her first taste of journalism in action and saw her career path spreading out before her.
Bruggink, who is now a freelancer in editorial and production working for ESPN, UEFA, and The Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB), says about that fateful day: “My brother was a professional football player, and a journalist [from Canal+] visited our home for a video about him.
“I love live sports, and always have loved it. For myself, I love working on events. Something that has a beginning and an end. The red light goes on and as of that time you have to be focussed and sharp. And when the lights go off, it is done”
“At that time we started to talk, and after a few months he phoned me (and my twin sister Hilde,) to see if we were interested in a job at Canal+. It felt great as of the first moment; exactly what I have always wanted.”
She goes on: “I have loved sports since I was a kid, being sporting myself, playing volleyball and tennis, but also watching it. Football, tennis, Olympics, speed skating; all live sports. I can’t remember what the exact moment was, but I once saw a behind the scenes video and as of that moment I thought I would love to work behind the scenes in TV and sports.”
At the time Bruggink joined Canal+ as an editor, the broadcaster had just acquired rights for live Dutch football from KNVB. She progressed onto working as a producer and production manager, “but it has always been a combination between editorial and production work that I loved,” she notes.
“At the beginning I started as a floor manager for Eredivisie matches. I loved and still love that job. You are part of a production, have to act and react, and never know what is going to happen.
“Since 2008 my twin sister and I started our own company, Bruggink & Bruggink. In 2009 the KNVB asked me to be one of the media officers of the Netherlands team. As of today I still have that role,” she continues.
“It is difficult to mention highlights of my career, though,” Bruggink says. “I have worked on World Cups and Euro’s, although both the World Cup 2010 and especially 2014 were amazing to be part of. In 2010, it was my first tournament; the Netherlands team lost the final against Spain. And in 2014 the Netherlands team was not favourite for the tournament, but they won the third place.”
Since 2009 she has also worked as a venue operations and broadcast manager (VOBM) for UEFA, which has enabled her to travel throughout Europe and meet a wide range of people, which she has enjoyed.
She comments on the freelance life in sports broadcasting: “I love every part of it. As a freelancer it fits, because the Netherlands team is never playing when the Eredivisie, UEFA Champions League or Europa League is going on. And I love the different roles and responsibilities. It is never boring and always different.
“I love live sports, and always have loved it. For myself, I love working on events. Something that has a beginning and an end. The red light goes on and as of that time you have to be focussed and sharp. And when the lights go off, it is done.”
Bruggink says sometimes she has to take a step back from being in the midst of the excitement of an event to look around and realise just how much she appreciates her career.
She explains: “Before the final of the World Cup 2010 in South Africa, Nelson Mandela was there. I found it amazing to be there as well. At that moment I realised I was a lucky person, working, doing something I love and being a (small) part of the big event that was going on. And when Nelson Mandela was there, I realised how big it was.”
However, she adds: “Sometimes it is hard to work during weekends and holidays. But on the other hand that is also what I love about it.”
Adjusting to her varied roles takes time, she notes: “As always when you start a job, you have to get to know it and make it your own. You can’t copy it because you have to do it your way. Maybe that is the most challenging part of it. Making it yours and getting your best skills to the front.”
Her top tip for others looking to move into sports broadcasting is simply, “if you really want it, go for it”.
She concludes: “Enjoy it and work hard. Don’t complain and be part of the team. It doesn’t matter you are a woman; if you are good in what you do, you will be respected. Don’t act differently because you are a woman, be yourself. It will be great if it is what you love.”